The Harry Potter series. Most people read these books years ago. I didn't. For many reasons I didn't. But recently (well, last year) several friends encouraged me to try them. I asked for the first book for Christmas and received it from a friend (thanks, Mary!). After reading the first few chapters I promptly returned book 1 (what?!?!? I didn't read the whole thing!) and put the $$ towards an order of the whole set instead:
I then read the first couple books in the short span of 6 months. Haha. I really did enjoy the first few books, but they didn't "grab" me in a I-have-to-read-until-I'm-done way. Plus, I was pregnant and distracted by many things (including tons of mommy and pregnancy and birth books). I read book 1, book 2, and part of book 3 and then I gave birth to Skylar.
Fast forward 5 months. We had moved to a different state, Skylar was 5 months old and able to nurse without as much "help" from my hands and I was relaxing into being a Mom. PLUS, as part of my New Years Resolutions for 2013 I decided I wanted to READ more. I finished book 3 and moved on to book 4 in January. less than 2 months later? I've finished the series and I'm craving MORE MORE MORE!
This isn't really a review... it's more of a general discussion of the books and why I now wish I could just keep reading them forever (ok, not really, but they were pretty epic!). There are a few things about them I loved most... and here they are (in no particular order):
It's fantasy. I typically love other-wordly books. Plot lines that are completely outside of where we are today (ex: Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings) or that sit along side our current society but present some separate part of our world that is completely different or hidden (ex: Twilight). Harry Potter is more the latter than the former, but has some ties to both types of fantasy.
The characters! Fun, like-able protagonists... with flaws. They were human. They fought and had issues just like we do, but they also had character development and enough goodness that I WANTED to like them. Evil, awful villains... who, typically, also had a humanness -- and their fall from goodness to evil could be traced and understood. AND everyone in between: All the people who were caught between these worlds... uncertain of their allegiance... but never losing sight of some sort of hope or love or something more than the evil that desired to consume them.
The storytelling. On that front I think I've been spoiled badly. It's so cool to learn something in book 1 and then have it reference in book 7. I love the "ohhhhh" moments when everything clicks and you start to understand what's been going on the whole time -- right out of view -- but hinted at for the whole book (or, sometimes, the whole series).
Good writing. While not perfect, it was some really good writing. I did chuckle a few times at words that would make an appearance over and over for just one book (usually in the speaking style of a few characters). The most notable is the use of the word "mate" in one of the books. ;)
Nuggets of wisdom. While the worldview of the books is not the same as my own completely, there was an underlying theme of doing good, thwarting evil, and, above all: LOVE. Additionally, there were themes about the dangers of power and how easily a lust for power can consume a person. One of my favorite quotes in all of the books is pictured here:
Finally, the ending. It was all I could have hoped for. And for that I'm extremely thankful.
The best way to describe my "reading mood" since Harry Potter is: In withdrawal. No story seems "right" to be reading... or quite as interesting or rich. I miss the world of Harry and Ron and Hermione and Dumbledore... and Snape, and the Weasleys and Hogwarts and all the rest. Yes, I know I still have the movies to watch.. .and I will. But for now I want to enjoy the pictures in my head..
Ps: My attempt to assuage the withdrawal symptoms is to read this book (thanks for recommending it, Jill).
It's entirely too short, but should help calm the withdrawal shakes for a bit. ;)